Friday, June 29, 2007

Truckers from Mexico Get to Pass GO

Little has been said about next month's change in policy that will allow Mexican trucks to roll across the border into the U.S. making deliveries anywhere in the country. U.S. truckers will now lose business to low-paid Mexican truckers who can drive trucks that don't have to meet the same emissions and safety requirements demanded of U.S. trucks, will not be required to submit drug tests in the U.S. as required of all other drivers, and can drive as many hours as they want without a break.
Having taken a number of trips well into Mexico and observed trucks held together with baling wire belching clouds of smoke swerving all over the road, it’s hard to understand why environmentalists and safety advocates aren’t out organizing protest marches. Despite administration officials’ assertions that some of these concerns will be managed in Mexico, I’m sorry, but that comforts me like a bed of nails.

And what about security? The National Transportation Safety Board, INS and Border Patrol already admit to being grossly understaffed now. How will they possibly control the increased traffic that will include drug and criminal smuggling along with imported tomatoes and lettuce.

From a purely highway safety perspective, this seems like a terrible idea. But in a post 9/11 world, it's unfathomable.
Not surprisingly, U.S. truckers, and Teamsters are up in arms. If only border security advocates knew...


Sirocco said...

This post goes beyond typical hyperbole, and is simply factually wrong.

The program is a one-year pilot program. The participants are limited to selected Mexican companies. The trucks to be used are required to have US insurance and and meet US safety standards.

Those old, rickety run-down trucks being barely held together by chicken wire you refer to need not apply.

Now, there are legitimate reasons to be against this program -- the fact that some work _will_ be taken from US truckers is among them (although it's worth noting the program only allows taking goods from Mexico to US, and collecting from US to deposit in Mexico, no transport of goods between two US cities allowed), as are security issues. However, you severely weaken your case when you resort to transparent fear-mongering.

roger said...

This is certainly what the Teamsters are arguing ACE and I never thought you to be much of a pro-unioner.

I dont know about you, but freedom tells me that if they have the right papers and the right to cross, then they should be able to come and go as the Customs allows them to. Thats why Customs is there.

Apart from being bigger and a bit more dangerous, this step is about providing a free market of trade of goods across borders. Something most Republicans favor, I thought. Less restriction on the market...less regulations...and MORE ability to trade.

Eh..just me I guess.

AZAce said...

Beyond hyperbole? Factually wrong? Transparent fear-mongering? Ouch!
Oh all right. I guess I can't get away with anything on this blog...too many educated readers. Apparently, I should have given all the particulars even though it's supposed to be just a blog.

Sirocco, you're right. this IS a pilot program for one year supposedly limited to 100 truckers (your selected Mexican companies) but no limit as to how many trucks.

Here are my concerns with it:
1) Past administrations always allowed trucks with the right papers to advance 25 miles beyond the border and no further due to security reasons. It would seem that security reasons would be greater post 9/11, not less. Currently about 2% of trucks get inspected as they come across the border. Imagine the sheer number of additional trucks that will now come across without inspection and the impact that will have on security, smuggling, etc.
2) As for trucks meeting US safety standards, Mexico has no credible drug testing for drivers, no limits on driver behind-the-wheel time, no driver age limits, and there is no provision for the U.S. to ensure they would be enforced even if they did exist (which they don't).
3) This program provides no means of ensuring trucks from Mexico driving across the country are safe. Who will inspect them all for safety?
4) As you pointed out, drivers from Mexico are paid considerably less than their U.S. counterparts. They will now be delivering goods U.S. drivers would normally be handling thus taking work away from U.S. drivers who have all the restrictions, testing and regulations Mexican drivers will be able to mostly ignore.
5) The number of additional inspectors required for this program simply don't exist as stated by the National Transportation Safety Board which claims a shortage exists for current domestic needs.

Does this get me past the hyperbole and fear mongering?:)

AZAce said...

Roger, Sometimes there's a difference between free trade and fair trade. I'm a hard core free and fair trader as long as they happen together. As far as pro-unioner, I think for me it's less about union/non-union and more about impact on the workforce, economy and national security. It may surprise you to know I have a real problem exporting U.S. jobs in order to depress wages for U.S. workers, a practice that has a negative impact on our economy. Hey, maybe I'll post on that some day.

Mike J. said...

For those that are not aware, at the time of deregulation the Canadian trucks were supposed to be under the same restrictions as those proposed for the Mexican trucks.

However, what actually happened was that the Canadian trucks would run 2 to 3 turns in the U.S. prior to reloading for Canada. The heads of government officials turned so as to claim ignorance.

Expect this on the Mexican trucks as well.

By the way, I was an Independent Owner/Operator for over 25 years.

Sirocco said...

Why yes, Ace, yes it does. :)

roger said...

This surprises me as well ACE...I made an erroneous assumption. Although it sounds lately like Republicans wish to protect free trade when it seems beneficial and provide the opposite when it does not. That doesn't make for much of an ideology that is supposed to have at its core, limited government. All this Lou Dobbs and Pat Buchanan, protect America protectionism is definitely not the Republican party that I used to belong to. It wouldn't have satisfied Ronald Reagan, who few will say here, signed the last so called "amnesty bill", in was it 1986?

He recognized that the free flow of labor was valuable...and would have recognized that having Mexican trucks bring our ADM grown corn and the auto parts manufactured in South America by American companies all the way to stop the truck...and unload it on American well...inefficient and frankly the antithesis of what we call a global economy.

It blows my mind how the Republican party is slowly deserting its corporate roots everywhere with arguments like these. We have companies down there manufacturing goods. Its a global world...a global economy...and the republican party appears to be acting like unions and falling a victim of protectionism and isolationism.

Except in Iraq of course...

Anonymous said...

When did Arizona 8th turn into a big labor blog?

A few things that need to be mentioned as the record is set straight on cross-border trucking:

- Many of these Mexican trucks will continue to stay in the border zone. The distribution channels that already exist won't suddenly disappear overnight. Long hauls from Moterrey to Chicago won't spring up until the business relationships are established that would allow that truck to return home with a full load. Empties don't pay the bills.

- Second, a deal's a deal. Reciprocal trucking access was part of NAFTA. We cannot simply pick and choose what parts of trade treaties we want to live up to. The Supreme Court has already found that the Clinton Administration was in violation of the agreement. This deal is simply the US living up to its end of the bargain.

Anonymous said...

American trucks will not be permitted the same access to Mexico.